The production employees behind Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty and Hulu’s Solar Opposites are attempting to unionize in the spirit of understanding their worth.
The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 (TAG), stated on Tuesday that the production teams for Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites had petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to oversee a vote on whether or not the programs’ employees would unionize. The petition to TAG was filed after legal representatives for Adult Swim, and Hulu made it clear that the studios were not interested in voluntarily recognizing the bargaining unit — which includes storyboard coordinators, production supervisors, and a variety of assistants — in its current form, according to Deadline.
The negotiating committee noted in a statement that its request for voluntary recognition came from “a supermajority of the workers” on both series and that neither studio had spoken directly to them regarding their desire.
The bargaining committee noted that “attorneys representing both production companies responded to this request by contacting TAG and stating that the productions’ parent studios, Adult Swim and 20th Century Fox, were not willing to voluntarily recognize the entire unit as proposed by The Animation Guild.”
The Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites personnel’s efforts to form a union come when workers across the entertainment business have been pressing for more equitable working conditions and higher pay. Negotiations between TAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new master agreement would set new standard pay rates for animation writers and a new compensation structure for streaming programs, which are currently treated differently than their non-streaming counterparts, stalled last year.
Interestingly, in contrast to Adult Swim and Hulu, Titmouse, a production company based in New York City, had no problem acknowledging its employees’ desire to join TAG earlier this year. Because the Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites employees who intended to unionize in the first place will also be voting in the NLRB ballot, it appears that the studios are simply trying to postpone the inevitable in the hopes that everyone would calm down.
However, given how workers in various industries are warming to the idea of banding together to protect themselves from corporate abuse better, the studios might want to consider inviting people to the table.
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